The Prowler (1951 film)

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The Prowler
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Joseph Losey
Produced by Sam Spiegel
Screenplay by Dalton Trumbo
Hugo Butler
Story by Robert Thoeren
Hans Wilhelm
Starring Van Heflin
Evelyn Keyes
Music by Lyn Murray
Cinematography Arthur C. Miller
Edited by Paul Weatherwax
Horizon Pictures
Distributed by United Artists
Release dates
  • May 25, 1951 (1951-05-25) (United States)
Running time
92 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Prowler is a 1951 black-and-white thriller film noir directed by Joseph Losey that stars Van Heflin and Evelyn Keyes. The film was produced by Sam Spiegel (as S.P. Eagle) and was written by Dalton Trumbo under a pseudonym.[1]


Webb Garwood, a disgruntled cop, is called to investigate a voyeur by Susan Gilvray. Her husband works nights as an overnight radio personality. The cop falls in love with the young and attractive married woman.

Obsessed, he woos her despite her initial reluctance. Garwood finds out about an insurance policy on the husband's life. He dreams up a scheme in which a phantom "prowler" would be a good scapegoat if Susan's husband should happen to die mysteriously. After becoming a prowler himself, Garwood commits the murder and makes it look like self-defense.

Susan, who is pregnant, runs away with Garwood to a ghost town named Calico to have the baby without anyone back home knowing. Susan goes into premature labor and Garwood finds a doctor. Garwood intends to kill the doctor to preserve their secret—Susan was pregnant several months before the marriage to Garwood—but the doctor escapes with the newborn.

Garwood confesses to the murder of Susan's husband and she tells him to get out. He drives away, leaving his wife in Calico alone. On the way out of town, Garwood runs (literally) into his former partner on the police force. While attempting to escape, Garwood sees several police cars coming so he heads for the hills. He refuses to stop and a sheriff's deputy shoots him dead.



Critical response[edit]

Film critic Dennis Schwartz liked the film, writing, "A neat noir thriller that has a slight variation on the Double Indemnity theme, this time it is the guy who is the seducer. This is a Joseph Losey American film, made before his self-exile from the 1950s HUAC witch hunt days when he fled to England. It is the director's aim to highlight social issues and class differences. They will play a major role in the motif, adding to the usual noir ones of dark character and sexual misconduct. Dalton Trumbo, the blacklisted writer, is the uncredited cowriter of the script."[2]


  1. ^ The Prowler at the Internet Movie Database.
  2. ^ Schwartz, Dennis. Ozus' World Movie Reviews, film review, February 2, 2000. Accessed: July 8, 2013.

External links[edit]